Livewire - December 12, 2012

Geoff Adams of Over Wyre

Geoff Adams of Over Wyre

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By Geoff Adams of Over Wyre

There comes a moment in everybody’s life – a rite of passage into a better world, perhaps – when even coach holidays suddenly become attractive.

My dear old dad loved the posh hotel in the Scottish Highlands that he used to repair to every year. He even paid for a bench in the grounds – “Geoff’s Dad Sat Here”, or something equally poetic, and my dear wife has often wondered why people pay good money for something that is going to spend its life in contact with fat bottoms (“posteriority”, I suggested once, but she was watching Corrie and didn’t hear, and with me you only get one chance, Doris.)

Then, as year rolled on year, Dad got happier and happier. “Ee, lad, we had th’ole place to oorsens,” he proudly proclaimed one year, which was a pretty remarkable thing in itself, Dad being a Brummie. But then calamity struck.

“They let a coach party in,” he croaked, and he was never the same after that. He went all pale and listless, hung up his walking boots, sold his collection of PG Wodehouse and cancelled the National Trust subscriptions. A broken man. The awful thing is that were he still alive I might meet him, me arriving with a coach party and him sitting on his bench, glowering at me.

But the sad fact is, without coach holidays an awful lot of hotels in remoter parts of the country would have gone under years ago, because the economics of passing trade just don’t add up any more – just as the economics of foreign travel insurance don’t to many older people.

The tour operators have a fine eye for the details of the balance sheet, and much of their profit is ploughed back into refurbishment and modernisation, and tourism is very healthy indeed for the local economy, as Blackpool knows only too well. Some of the money also goes towards training staff in the noble art of waiting on, and I could name at least three hotels in remote parts of Scotland where the table service is at least as good as in 
Claridges. And that’s down to an ethos of excellence in the sticks – and at accessible everyman prices.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Dad. No, not there, Dad. Round the back, next to the lavvies. Hotel rules.

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